:"Not to be mistaken with lexicography."

[http://cougar.eb.com/soundc11/l/lexico06.wav Lexicology] (from "lexiko"-, in the Late Greek "lexikon") is that part of linguistics which studies "words", their nature and meaning, words' elements, relations between words (semantical relations), words groups and the whole lexicon.

The term first appeared in the 1820s, though there were lexicologists in the straight meaning even before that. Computational lexicology as a related field (in the same way that computational linguistics is related to linguistics) deals with the computational study of dictionaries and their contents. An allied science to lexicology is "lexicography", which also studies words in relation with dictionaries - it is actually concerned with the inclusion of words in dictionaries and from that perspective with the whole lexicon. Therefore "lexicography" is the theory and practice of composing dictionaries. Sometimes lexicography is considered to be a part or a branch of lexicology, but the two disciplines should not be mistaken: lexicographers are the people who write dictionaries, they are at the same time lexicologists too, but not all lexicologists are lexicographers. It is said that lexicography is the "practical lexicology", it is "practically oriented" though it has its own theory, while the pure lexicology is mainly "theoretical".

Semantics. Lexical semantics

The domain of Lexical Semantics

Semantical relations between words are manifested in respect of homonymy, antonymy, paronymy, etc. Semantics usually involved in lexicological work is called "lexical semantics". Lexical semantics is somewhat different from other linguistic types of semantics like phrase semantics, semantics of sentence, and text semantics, as they take the notion of meaning in much broader sense. There are outside (although sometimes related to) linguistics types of semantics like cultural semantics and computational semantics, as the latest is not related to computational lexicology but to mathematical logic. Among semantics of language, lexical semantics is most robust, and to some extend the phrase semantics too, while other types of linguistic semantics are new and not quite examined.

History of Lexical Semantics

Lexical semantics may not be understood without a brief exploration of its history.

Prestructuralist semantics

Semantics as a linguistic discipline has its beginning in the middle of the 19th century, and because linguistics at the time was predominantly , thus lexical semantics was diachronic too - it dominated the scene between the years of 1870 and 1930. [Dirk Geeraerts, The theoretical and descriptive development of lexical semantics, Prestructuralist semantics, Published in: The Lexicon in Focus. Competition and Convergence in Current Lexicology, ed. Leila Behrens and Dietmar Zaefferer, p. 23-42] Diachronic lexical semantics was interested without a doubt in the change of meaning with predominantly semasiological approach, taking the notion of meaning in a psychological aspect: lexical meanings were considered to be psychological entities), thoughts and ideas, and meaning changes are explained as resulting from psychological processes.

Structuralist and neostructuralist semantics

With the rise of new ideas after the ground brake of Saussure's work, prestructuralist diachronic semantics was considerably criticized for the atomic study of words, the approach and the mingle of nonlinguistics spheres of investigation. The study became , concerned with semantic structures and narrowly linguistic.

Semantic structural relations of lexical entities can be seen in three ways:

#semantic similarity
#lexical relations such as synonymy, antonymy, and hyponymy
#syntagmatic lexical relations were identified

As structuralist lexical semantics was revived by neostructuralist not much work was done by them, it is actually admitted by the followers.

It may be seen that WordNet "is a type of an online electronic lexical database organized on "relational principles", which now comprises nearly 100,000 concepts" as Dirk Geeraerts [Dirk Geeraerts, The theoretical and descriptive development of lexical semantics, Structuralist and neostructuralist semantics, Published in: The Lexicon in Focus. Competition and Convergence in Current Lexicology, ed. Leila Behrens and Dietmar Zaefferer, p. 23-42] states it.

Chomskyan school: interpretative and generative semantics

Followers of Chomskyan generative approach to grammar soon investigated two different types of semantics, which, unfortunately, clashed in an effusive debate [Harris, Randy Allen (1993) The Linguistics Wars, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press] , these were interpretative and generative semantics.

Cognitive semantics

Cognitive lexical semantics is thought to be most productive of thecurrent approaches.


Another branch of lexicology, together with lexicography is phraseology. It studies compound meanings of two or more words, as in "raining cats and dogs". Because the whole meaning of that phrase is much different from the meaning of words included alone, phraseology examines how and why such meanings come in everyday use, and what possibly are the laws governing these word combinations. Phraseology also investigates idioms.


Because lexicology studies the meaning of words and their semantical relations, it often is interested in the history of the word, or even in history of vocabulary and lexicon. Etymology is closely used to clarify some questionable meanings, spellings, etc., and is also a matter of lexicography - etymological dictionaries give words with their historical change and development.

Lexicology in life: Lexicography

A good example of lexicology at work, that everyone is familiar with, is that of dictionaries and thesaurus. Dictionaries are books or computer programs (or databases) that actually represent lexicographical work, they are opened and purposed for the use of public.

As there are many different types of dictionaries, there are many different types of lexicographers.

Questions that lexicographers are concerned with are for example the difficulties in defining what simple words such as 'the' mean, and how compound or complex words, or words with many meanings can be clearly explained. Also which words to keep in and which not to include in a dictionary.

Noted lexicographers

Some noted lexicographers include:
* Dr. Samuel Johnson (September 18, 1709 – December 13, 1784)
* French lexicographer Pierre Larousse (October 23, 1817-January 3, 1875)
* Noah Webster (October 16, 1758 – May 28, 1843)
* Russian lexicographer Vladimir Dal (November 10, 1801 – September 22, 1872)


* "Lexicology/Lexikologie: International Handbook on the Nature and Structure of Words and Vocabulary/Ein Internationales Handbuch Zur Natur and Struktur Von Wortern Und Wortschatzen, Vol 1. & Vol 2." (Eds. A. Cruse et al)
* "Words, Meaning, and Vocabulary: An Introduction to Modern English Lexicology," (ed. H. Jackson); ISBN 0-304-70396-6
* "Toward a Functional Lexicology", (ed. G. Wotjak); ISBN 0-8204-3526-0
* "Lexicology, Semantics, and Lexicography", (ed. J. Coleman); ISBN 1-55619-972-4
* "English Lexicology: Lexical Structure, Word Semantics & Word-formation",(Leonhard Lipka.); ISBN 9783823349952
* "Outline of English Lexicology ", (Leonhard Lipka.); ISBN 3484410035


See also

* Lexeme
* Lexicon
* Lexicography
* Computational lexicology
* Semasiology
* Onomasiology
* English lexicology and lexicography

External links

* [http://www.atala.org Association for Automatic Language Processing (ATALA), Paris, France]
* [http://www.le.ac.uk/english/jmc21/ishll.html International Society for Historical Lexicography and Lexicology, University of Leicester]

* [http://www.ciil-ebooks.net/html/lexico/link4.htm Lexicology vs. lexicography - an explanation]
* [http://coral.lili.uni-bielefeld.de/Classes/Winter99/GSdictionary/CompLex/node2.html Lexicography, lexicology, lexicon theory]

* [http://www.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/GlossaryLinguisticsL.htm 'L' entries (from lexeme to lexicon) at SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics)'s glossary of linguistic terms]

"Teaching Material:"
* [http://www1.ku-eichstaett.de/SLF/EngluVglSW/OnOnMon1.pdf "English and General Historical Lexicology" (by Joachim Grzega and Marion Schöner]

* [http://screcherche.univ-lyon3.fr/lexis "Lexis, E-Journal in English Lexicology" (by Denis Jamet)]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lexicology — Lex i*col o*gy (l[e^]ks [i^]*k[o^]l [ o]*j[y^]), n. [Gr. lexiko n lexicon + logy: cf. F. lexicologie.] The science of the derivation and signification of words; that branch of learning which treats of the signification and application of words.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • lexicology — 1828, from LEXICO (Cf. lexico ) + LOGY (Cf. logy) …   Etymology dictionary

  • lexicology — [leks΄ikäl′ə jē] n. [< Gr lexikon, LEXICON + LOGY] the study of the meanings and origins of words lexicological [leks΄ikə läj′i kəl] adj. lexicologist n …   English World dictionary

  • lexicology — noun a) The part of linguistics that studies words, their nature and meaning, words elements, relations between words including semantic relations, words groups and the whole lexicon. The fifth is devoted to doctrine; the sixth and seventh to… …   Wiktionary

  • lexicology — noun Etymology: French lexicologie, from lexico (from Late Greek lexiko , from lexikon) + logie logy Date: circa 1828 a branch of linguistics concerned with the signification and application of words • lexicological adjective • lexicologist noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • lexicology — См. lessicologìa …   Пятиязычный словарь лингвистических терминов

  • lexicology — lexicological /lek si keuh loj i keuhl/, lexicologic, adj. lexicologist, n. /lek si kol euh jee/, n. the study of the formation, meaning, and use of words and of idiomatic combinations of words. [1820 30; LEXIC(ON) + O + LOGY] * * * …   Universalium

  • lexicology — Synonyms and related words: bowwow theory, comparative linguistics, derivation, descriptive linguistics, dialectology, dingdong theory, etymology, glossematics, glossography, glossology, glottochronology, glottology, grammar, graphemics,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • lexicology — lex|i|col|o|gy [ ,leksı kalədʒi ] noun count LINGUISTICS the study of the form and meaning of words …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • lexicology — study of words and their meanings Sciences and Studies …   Phrontistery dictionary